How to Tell If Your Parent is a Narcissist

BetterHelp, Children and Loss: The Five Stages of Grief

 In my book, “Alienated When Parents Won’t Parent,” I share the dark side of a malignant narcissist parent and the severe consequences that can occur with this kind of caregiver. In my case, my stepmom was the caregiver. 

While the word narcissist is thrown around everywhere these days, It is important to note, that not everyone who displays some narcissistic traits or is difficult is an actual narcissist.  Having narcissistic tendencies, for example, bragging or needing yourself the center of attention, are actually normal traits when they occur occasionally and don’t indicate that a person is a narcissist

 At some point, especially during our younger years, we may come off as selfish and entitled, which at some level is a normal part of being human. Children under the age of six are “selfish” by human necessity.  Adolescence is a time of rapid change, and being focused on themselves is actually part of the development that helps teens separate from their families and is absolutely normal for teenagers to be self-centered. It is when this child grows up to reflect these same behaviors and on at an extreme level that this person could be labeled as a narcissist. 

What is the difference between a malignant narcissist vs narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or NPD) involves core traits, including grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy., as malignant narcissists possess NPD traits but to a more extreme and damaging extent. 

Malignant narcissism is among the darkest proposed types of personality. It combines both traits of narcissism and antisocial behavior with possible sadism. They may not all be physically violent, but many of them are psychologically violent and aggressive towards those they target. 

Top traits and patterns of narcissistic parents 

Arrogance, attention seeking, and a sense of entitlement, manipulating and controlling their children, lack empathy, show contempt, and are intolerant of differences. Some patterns of a narcissist parent can look like using money to control their children’s lives into adulthood. A narcissistic parent will alienate and erase a parent out of their child’s life out of contempt for their Ex-Spouse. They are incapable of co-parenting and often struggle to have healthy relationships within their own family structure. 

A Malignant Narcissist not only lacks empathy but fakes empathy. They use humiliation, they’re calculating in their actions. Some patterns of a malignant narcissist can look like unrelenting jealousy. For example; They will lie and humiliate to gain control over their victims. I refer to this pattern in my book as the gossiping alienating pattern.

BetterHelp, Children and Loss: The Five Stages of Grief

A child’s formative years are vital for social, psychological, and emotional development.  A narcissist parent and even a parent with narcissistic traits make childhood chaotic and can have detrimental effects on their developing child. As of 2023, every four seconds, a child loses a healthy parent to false accusations in our failed family court system as well as every six days, a child dies at the hands of a parent or caregiver in the United States due to high conflict divorce.

What parents can do to become more aware and avoid this in their children’s future is to help their child understand the importance of regulating their emotions and allow them space to feel into the uncomfortable moments that occur in life.  Although we can’t protect our children forever, we can teach them to learn how to protect themselves. Me


In my book, “Alienated When Parents Won’t Parent”, I share and go into detail on the consequences a narcissistic parent is capable of and the importance of a parental shift forward to help all parents and the children depending on them. 

Lisa Goodpaster

Related Posts

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter